Monday, January 28, 2013

How Significant We Are

The following is a quote from Carl Sagan (1934-1996):

Consider again that dot.
That's here, that's home, that's us.
On it, everyone you love, everyone you know,
everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was
live out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering,
Thousands of confident religious, ideologies and economic doctrines.
Every hunter and forager, every hero and coward,
Every creator and destroyer of civilisation,
Every king and peasant, every young couple in love,
Every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer,
Every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician,
Every "superstar", every "supreme leader", every saint and sinner in the history of our species,
Lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
There Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena.
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that,
in glory and triumph,
They could become the momentary "masters" of a fraction of a dot.
Think of all the cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel
on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner.
How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another,
how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance,
The delusion that we have some privileged position in this universe,
are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the enveloping cosmic dark.
In our obscurity, in all this vastness,
There is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life.
There is nowhere else, at least in the near future,
to which our species could migrate.
Visit, yes.
Settle, not yet.
Like it or not, the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.
There is perhaps no better demonstrations of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.
To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another.
And to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot,
The only home we've ever known.


I came across this quote on Zen Pencils, a cool comic blog that adapts inspirational quotes into comics. Part of the description of this particular quote goes as follows:

"The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft at a distance of 3.7 billion miles away. The spacecraft had completed its primary mission and was passing Saturn, hurtling through space at 40,000 mph. Carl Sagan requested that the spacecraft turn around and take a photo of Earth, not for any scientific purpose, but as a sobering reminder of our planet’s insignificance. The resulting image inspired Sagan to write this now famous and breathtaking passage."

When I read the quote through the comic, I was like, "Yeah man, we're REALLY small. This guy speaks the truth."

But then I googled the picture.

The Pale Blue Dot.

And I cried.

Take a minute and try looking around you right now. Look. Please?

Now look back at the pale blue dot.

We look around and think that this Earth is so big, that our houses are so big, that our cars are so big, that our selves are so big.

But that's a lie.

We're nothing but a fraction of a dot. And that's from just a few billions of miles away. How big is this space we're floating in? How big is all of creation? How big then is The Creator?

Yet we think that we're so important. That we're all that. That we're so significant.

Just think, in the sight of God, how significant are we? How significant can we be?

We're nothing. And yet we live our lives as if we're high and mighty. As if the world owes something to us.

Everyone from Adam a.s. all those years ago to Muhammad s.a.w. to you and me right here and now has only ever lived on this speck of dust that seems to be merely existing amongst the darkness. 

We have to realise that we are not big. Thus there is no rational to claiming that we are better than anyone. We're specks, just like everyone else in the world. How good we are is not for us to say. It is the sole responsibility of Allah SWT to say where we go after we leave the pale blue dot.

Allah SWT has sent us models in the form of the Prophets s.a.w. for us to make examples of how to carry ourselves on the pale blue dot. So be kind. Smile. Don't get angry. Show affection. Bring peace everywhere and to everyone you meet. Seek and speak the truth. Love.

And every time you feel an ego-trip coming, you could always come back to the pale blue dot and get a reality check.


Among other things, Carl Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. He was also known to be an agnostic

May peace be upon all of you!